Puzzle building is a lost art, pushed aside by electronic gaming and dvd watching. Should you as a parent or teacher make any attempt to resurrect this lost art? Experts in the field of early learning tell us that young learners will benefit significantly from opening that puzzle box and putting the pieces together.
According to the article “Puzzles and Games for Preschoolers” by Alvin Poussaint, M.D. and Susan Linn, Ed.D., puzzles serve various educational functions in the development of young learners. Standing head and shoulders above the other advantages of playing with puzzles, is the fact that puzzle-building helps kids develop problem solving skills. And who doesn’t want a child who can think for herself and figure out solutions to every day problems?
Problem solving is a skill that goes well beyond the realms of mathematics and science. Without the ability to problem solve, relationships become dysfunctional and workplaces become a source of deadly stress. According to psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein in his article “Two Essential Skills for an Emotionally Healthy Life“, the ability to problem solve is critical for effective management our lives. Why then would anyone withhold opportunities for their children or students to develop this vital skill?
Poussaint and Linn suggest that trying to fit the puzzle pieces together helps children “learn the value of flexible thinking and persistence”. Moving and placing the pieces develops fine motor skills. Puzzle building also stimulates deductive reasoning and inference. The process of assembling a puzzle helps children understand that big things can usually be broken down into smaller parts. This realization is a critical element in successful problem solving.
Is it time for our children to put aside the gaming console for a little while and pick up an old fashioned box of puzzle pieces? To help young learners face life with well developed life skills, you cannot afford to procrastinate. Unpack that old jigsaw puzzle today.